Strategic Leadership Team
Practical Action directors
Practical Action's senior management team, which has executive responsibilities, is called the Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) and it comprises the Chief Executive and twelve Directors, including seven Country and Regional Directors.
Simon Trace took up his appointment as CEO of Practical Action in 2005. He has been associated with the organisation during a period of strong growth and rising international recognition for its work, particularly in the area of the environment and energy where Practical Action has won a number of international awards.
A civil engineer by training, Simon also studied anthropology. Simon's career has principally been in community development, in the fields of soil and water conservation or water and sanitation, and he has spent time with a number of agencies, including periods of secondment to CARE and Unicef. He also spent a total of 10 years in Zambia and Nepal prior to moving to London to take up a series of positions with WaterAid, including Asia Regional Manager and Head of International Operations. Prior joining Practical Action, Simon was Strategic Development Director for the UK NGO WaterAid.
Simon's blog »
Paul Smith Lomas
Paul is Practical Action's International Director, and is responsible for the overall operation of its programmes and consulting service which it runs around the world. He is also a member of the Corporate Management Team, which is responsible for organisational strategy.
Paul's professional background is as a mechanical engineer. He worked originally in the water treatment industry in the UK, before going on a VSO assignment in 1985 to Eastern Sudan, where he set up water and sanitation systems for refugee populations from Eritrea & Ethiopia. He then worked with ActionAid in the Nuba Mountains, still focussing on public health engineering with rural communities.
After a short spell in the commercial sector, Paul returned to the voluntary sector in 1991, as Technical Adviser for Oxfam, based in the UK. He was awarded an MBE for services to international development in recognition of his leadership of Oxfam's work responding to the Kosovo crisis.
Immediately prior to joining Practical Action, Paul was the Regional Director for Oxfam in the Horn & Eastern Africa, where he managed a large programme covering development, campaigning, and emergency response.
Paul's blog »
Marketing and Communications Director
Margaret joined Practical Action in 2000, where she has established a successful marketing and communications area including overseeing the rebranding from ITDG to Practical Action. Her team lead on communications, campaigning, impact through knowledge sharing, education and fundraising. She also oversees the development of Practical Action Publishing.
Margaret is the former Vice Chair of BOND (British NGOs for Development) and is a former Trustee of the YWCA.
Margaret is interested in the potential of global movements to deliver sustainable change. She began her career in commercial marketing - working for the 80s giants Coloroll and Lonrho. In the 1990s Margaret decided to align her work more fully with her principles and moved to the UK's leading fair trade organisation Traidcraft, working extensively across Africa and Asia, to develop Traidcraft's Market information and market access services and providing capacity building to businesses and their support organisations internationally.
Passionate about social justice and community, she continues to be excited by the role technology can play in poverty reduction and ambitious for Practical Action's work.
Margaret's blog »
Mark joined Practical Action in 1999 and has been Finance Director since 2000, during which time its annual income has more than doubled. He believes this is the second best job in the world.
Qualified as a Chartered Management Accountant in 1989, he worked for blue chip organisations such as Ford and Mercury Communications, for five years before spending two years working for the Royal Government of Bhutan (through VSO). This was the best job in the world. He recently completed a Masters in Public Administration at Warwick University.
Mark's blog »
Veena has been Bangladesh Country Director since 1997. She has a background in economics with 23 years experience in the Bangladesh development sector. Her previous roles included CIDA, UNDP and the World Bank. It was the profound experience of working with the poorest communities with ActionAid motivated her to do the work she does today.
She enjoys meeting people, finding their problems, and trying to provide solutions. She dislikes anything unfair and unjust and has a passion to explore big, new and risky challenges.
Latin America Director
Alfonso trained as a sociologist, and has held academic posts at universities in Perú and Finland. After his return to Perú he worked as a Consultant for UNESCO, FINNIDA and the IDRC amongst others. He also worked as a regional and urban Planner for INADUR in Lima. In 1989 Alfonso joined Practical Action (then ITDG) as a social scientist, specialising in rural energy, before becoming Regional Director in 1994.
Achyut is trained as a Civil Engineer and has over two decades of experience in the development sector, including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and Helvetas. During this time he has gained practical knowledge in many different kinds of rural infrastructure programmes.
He was part of the core team involved in the design of DFID's transport and livelihood programme (Rural Access Programme) between 2000 and 2001, leading this team until early 2006 when he joined Practical Action as the Country Director, Nepal in March 2006.
He feels that having the opportunity to work at Practical Action is quite a unique and exciting experience. He likes the people centred approach, using technology to fight poverty. He also feels that Practical Action always offers a learning environment and encourages people to come up with ideas which can change people's lives in a meaningful way.
South Asia Director
Vishaka joined Practical Action in 1989, with a background in agro-processing and food science. Over the years she has been IT project manager, country programme manager and agro-processing & policy director.
She was involved in identifying, modifying, testing and demonstrating a number of technologies suitable for de-centralised agro-processing options, and played a key role in planning and implementing the post-Tsunami rebuilding programme in Sri Lanka.
She is a member of the Global Network for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), the ISDR Asia Partnership, the Sri Lanka Water Partnership (IWMI), NGOs Water Supply & Sanitation Decade Service and the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies (CHA) Sri Lanka.
Southern Africa Director
An agriculturalist by training, specialising in dairying, Ernest also has an MSc in business and an MBA. He has been in international development for the last 17 years and has worked in a number of organizations in the public, private and NGO sectors. Ernest has worked on a number of national programs including dairy development in Zimbabwe and the Southern Africa region, and is the chair of the Zimbabwe Dairy Industry Trust, a board that influences policy on dairy issues and brings together representatives from the farming community, processors, service providers and government.
East Africa Director
Grace Alice Mukasa joined Practical Action as Regional Director for East Africa in April 2011. Her career began as a secondary school teacher in Uganda, following a first degree at Makerere University, Uganda, Grace took a post graduate diploma in planning and management at the Institute of Teacher Education in Uganda. She also has an MA in Gender and Development from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex. After teaching for a number of years she moved on to work for UNDP and the World Bank in Uganda. She has worked in the programme areas of Save the Children, Plan International and for VSO as Country Director for Zambia. Immediately before moving to Practical Action, she was Chief Executive of AMREF.
Grace's blog »
Elwaleed Mohamed Elbashir
Waleed joined Practical Action in April 2012, bringing over 20 years of solid INGO experiences in Sudan and internationally. His last position was with Save the Children Sweden as Sudan Country Program Director. Waleed graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Veterinary Science with Post Graduate Diploma in Organization Development, in addition to more than four Publications and papers presented in Conferences and seminars.